WARNING: I have to talk about depression today, and want to make it very clear I am not speaking of CLINICAL depression. This will be repeated, for emphasis. If you have any sense that such a discussion would trigger guilt, blame, shame or any other negative reaction, please stop now.
The Seventh step of the Hero’s Journey is called “The Dark Night of the Soul.” It is the moment when the Hero has tried everything and it just isn’t working. Only some external circumstance of devastating power (you/your family will be killed or damaged) moves the hero through this in lotsa Hollywood films. And it is very normal to be able to push yourself through this for others (“my kids need me” more easily than for yourself.) The POTENTIAL was there. The CAPACITY was there. But the self-image was so damaged that they cannot tap into that potential for themselves. If you can do it for others, but not for yourself, THAT is the measure of the degree to which you are not tapped directly into your survival drives.
I got this PM yesterday:
Hello Steven, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for turning me on to The Morning Ritual. These last few weeks have been challenging, my (parent) is in the final stages of Parkinson’s, my finances are screwed up, just a lot of things compounding each other and I found myself dwelling in self pity. I kept doing my morning ritual which consists of a combination of Chi Gung and joint mobility exercises and the other day when I was doing my routine and reciting to myself all I’m thankful for I felt a jolt. I suddenly realized all I had and all I could give. I got all I need to fix this. I realized I could choose to wallow in despair or take ownership of my situation. I’m chose not to be a passenger. I formulated a strategy to get my finances under control and I visit my (parent) every day with an enormous sense of gratitude for everything (they have) given me and I try and let (them) know how much I live and appreciate (them). When I did the ritual this morning I felt at peace and looked forward to the rest of the day rather than dread it. Thanks again. The Morning Ritual seems so simple and yet the effects are profound.”
I’ve been running a group for people learning internet marketing, running them through Russell Brunson’s 30-Day marketing program. The challenge ends today, and its been like drinking from a fire-hose, believe me. The challenge was said to be 4 weeks, but it was actually 5 weeks, with week #1 being setting yourself up emotionally. And there were some comments and questions about this, to the effect of: “I wanted to learn internet marketing. What’s all this emotional stuff?”
What is it? Remember the Hero’s Journey? It says that the process of moving from one stage of your life to another, at ANYTHING, will pass through the “Dark Night of the Soul.” The moment that it feels as if nothing they do will solve the puzzle, win the day, produce a happy result. They can’t do it. All their capacities are insufficient.
Do you get that? You have to EXPECT this emotional passage, or it will catch you unaware.
So today, we got a very predictable response: “Now I’m getting depressed. I either have to spend a lot of time working my way into blogs or interviews or whatever, or a lot of money testing out hooks on paid ads. And I can spend a lot of money working with the Click Funnels site and software, or a lot of time figuring out how to make my own funnels. I have a day job and a family and I already feel like I’m not getting done what I need to get done. (Like I should have been working on my taxes the last few weeks.)”
So…what can be extracted from this?
- The emotional “downswing” is predictable. If you could accomplish something with your current skill/emotional set, you’d already be doing it. You must GROW. And that requires killing your current self-image. It will fight back, under even the healthiest situations, often using fear.
- (Non-clinical) Depression, in THIS context, is pure overwhelm, combined with fear and guilt. The TECHNICAL means of dealing with overwhelm are less important than the emotional aspects. Given the right emotions, the technical stuff is just organizing a prioritized checklist and doing a little every day. But the emotions will kill you.
- It is totally natural, but of course different conditions, life experiences, and physiologies and pharmacological interactions can make things hugely worse. This is an arena for experts, and if clinical depression is a factor in your life, you need to have a medical professional in your resource circle.
But one thing to look at carefully is the “guilt, blame, shame” aspects of it all. Combined with fear (“I can’t”), the feelings of “I shouldn’t, I mustn’t, I’m not enough, I’m bad, I’m inadequate” or whatever, combined with beliefs and unrealistic self-image (“I must do it perfectly”) can clearly be crippling.
If I want to discuss the whole picture of achievement, the emotional aspect may be the most important…but it is also the one where our ego can protect itself by literally poisoning us against our own potential.
IF the problem is one of lack of belief, conflicting values, basic environmental factors as opposed to an underlying disorder, then there are things we can do, as awake, aware, adults, to support positive emotions.
We spoke yesterday of the “Ancient Child” and “Heartbeat Meditation.” But if you want to nuke yourself, you should try the “Morning Ritual.” It hits every aspect of who and what we are.
Our emotions are determined by a combination of
- How we use our bodies
- What we focus on
- Our self-talk
To the degree that this is true, then a practice that controls ALL THREE at the same time is a massive shift. In fact, I suspect that the practice is so powerful that if you are seriously depressive you cannot do it. That you’ll be hit by a crippling emotional knot that stops you, using guilt, blame, shame, exhaustion and fear to shut you down. Again…professional intervention, please.
But for the average person, where the problem is lack of muscle development rather than a broken bone? A habit enables to you make change, but also acts as a diagnostic:
IF you do it, you’ll get the result.
IF you find that you cannot force yourself to follow through, you have a specific focal point. You’ve just identified an obstacle. What stops you? If there is any doubt you have the time and energy, you focus down to the smallest chunk of the process that will create forward motion. With writing, it’s a “sentence a day”. Do that, and things will change.
The smallest unit of change for our overall psychology might well be the “Daily Ritual”. Do it, and you make progress. Don’t do it, and you’ve identified one of the hidden demons plaguing your life:
So I just wanted to re-state the basics, which can be applied to any aspect of life:
- For 10-20 minutes a day, you MOVE YOUR BODY. Walk, run, rebound, dance. I use Tai Chi. Get the blood running.
- Simultaneously, you chant ALOUD, with as great a sense of positivity as possible. The chant follows the “MAGIC Formula” (Magic = Action X Gratitude X Intention X Conviction):
- Your belief that you CAN and SHOULD achieve/succeed. That you will gain more pleasure than pain from the process.
- GRATITUDE for the blessings you already have in your life. I promise you that you have them. If you are telling yourself you don’t, you are lying to yourself. Ask if you’d miss your eyes. Yes? Then be grateful you have them now.
- Now this is critical: EXPRESS GRATITUDE FOR THE SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF YOUR LONG TERM GOALS. And gratitude for what you are going to do TODAY to bring them into existence. (say: “I write at least one sentence every day” as a minimum for writing) IN other words, you transfer the emotions of having successfully completed something in the PAST to your FUTURE behaviors. The better you get at this, the easier it is to motivate yourself to do anything at all.
- Your conviction that you have all the emotional, physical, and mental skills necessary to accomplish it.
Look at all you accomplish in one place. And as you get better and better at it, you will begin to go deeper and deeper into the process every time.
Once you’ve established the habit, you might:
- Add meditation or journaling
- Add more exercise to raise your physical energy
- Get better at time management and tactical problem solving.
- Get better at accessing your emotions, so that your “WHY” gets more and more powerful.
So much in so short a period of time.
Whether I’m teaching writing, martial arts, marketing, or life skills, this is the MOST CRITICAL thing: the ability to take another step every day, on a wisely chosen spectrum of personal and business issues. Identifying the blocks. Controlling the INNER world, so that when the opportunities arise, you are READY.
I was shattered a few years back, and used the “Morning Ritual” to crawl out of that hole. Started with needing to do things for Jason. Intensified the physical in times when I was resistant to positivity. Daily sought a 1% improvement in clarity of the WHAT and the WHY of it all.
Until after some months of sometimes grueling effort (my ego was throwing EVERYTHING at me to try to get me to stop!) I looked up…and I was happy, and healthy, and using my mind to seek answers instead of problems. It was the difference between bicycling through the forest looking at trees, or looking at the empty spaces BETWEEN the trees. You crash a LOT less.
So…I know that in our SOULMATE CLASS, we will need to define the smallest daily increments, and create a ritual so that our students access the WHY every day. They must BELIEVE it is possible to find lasting love, BELIEVE that they are WORTH lasting love, and that the search for it will bring more pleasure than pain.
If you believe the effort to improve will bring more pleasure than pain to your life, YOU CANNOT STOP YOURSELF FROM DOING IT. If you believe it will bring more pain than pleasure, your chances of continuing to do it, voluntarily, long-term are almost zero.
Its going to be a challenge. I can’t wait!